Japan’s summer is filled with wonderful, colorful festivals for the entire family to enjoy. One such festival will be held this year after being canceled for the past 3 years. Save July 9th and 10th to visit the temple grounds at Sensoji in Asakusa, great for photo shots, or just purchase the plant and decorate your home.
At the Asakusa Sensoji temple grounds there will be over 100 vendor stalls selling the bright orange colored plants called Hozuki, other known names are the Japanese Lantern or the Chinese Lantern. In English it is called the strawberry ground cherries.
Hozuki is a flower, because of its unique dark orange papery covering that surrounds the fruit with many small white seeds inside. The festival has been open to the public since the
Edo Period. Used originally for medicinal purposes. In the latter years, people would peel off the papery cover, after gently squeezing the berry until the inside seeds are very soft, make a hole by the stem, then take the seeds out , clean the outer peel carefully, then use them as a whistle blowing carefully inside your mouth placing it between your tongue and lips.
Hozuki due to the closeness of the Obon Festival, they are used as offerings for the deceased. As Obon is a welcoming event for the ancestors coming back home, the Hozuki help the ancestors for their journey. Not only is one of the main offerings along with the cucumber, made into a horse using sticks used as a ride back home, along with the eggplant representing a cow, used as a way back to heaven.
Enjoy this celebration of the Hozuki festival along with Obon.